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Wonderful Wondering Wednesday!


Oh wondrous Wednesday! The day I get to purge my brain of all those questions that have been pinging around for a week or two.  The only down side is that I’m afraid one of these days I’ll purge them and there will be nothing left up there.  The upside is I am quite sure I can fill it up with useless thoughts again pretty quickly.

  1. Why is it so difficult for people to admit they are wrong?  I mean I get that  no one enjoys being wrong but do you really think anyone believes you are perfect?  Get therapy!
  2. Who came up with the phrase “lose a limb”?  It kind of sounds like it was misplaced somewhere.
  3. Was anyone aware that ring around the rosey was made up during the scarlet fever epidemic?  My childhood memories just got a little spooky.
  4. While I’m on the subject, who coined the bedtime prayer that ends “If I die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take…”?  Sweet dreams children!
  5. And who thought singing to a baby about falling in their cradle from a tree would calm them into sleep?  We are a warped society.
  6. Why do people drive like idiots around accident sites? Learn by example people! Put on your patient pants.
  7. Why is the one kid screaming their head off in the store always in the same aisle as me?
  8. Does anyone really believe you can reason with a screaming toddler? Really?
  9. Who decided that leggings were acceptable to wear as pants? No one needs to see all of that – buy a longer shirt!
  10. Why do we think that if we use a “nice” word that people won’t know we are really thinking the cuss word? I’m not two.
  11. Bonus for the day: Did you know they sell pancake batter in a bottle?  Really? Because adding the water to the mix is so taxing?  To quote my daughter: “If you can’t mix pancake batter you really just fail at life.”

Phew!  I feel so unloaded now!  Happy mid-week all!!



It’s Wonderful Wondering Wednesday!


Today’s blog is dedicated to my wonderfully wondrous husband. It’s his  birthday. He truly does fill my life with wonder and I’m so glad he puts up with me.  Most of the time I wonder why he does.  For example: it’s his birthday and did I do anything special?  Not really.  We are going to Starbucks later for a Birthday treat.  I wonder if they’ll put a candle in his cup for me….

  1. Do you suppose Syd from “Toy Story” grew up and started a toy refurb company?  I mean after talking to Woody like that you’d think he’d want to give back to toys.  Is anyone else disappointed they didn’t follow-up on that story line? (I swear if Pixar makes that movie I’m suing for the rights to the idea.   Remember – you saw it here first!) My kids tell me that the trash guy in Toy Story 3 is Syd because he has a skull shirt on but I’m not willing to settle for that.
  2. I understand it takes skill and finesse but is there anything  more boring than watching golf on television?  Why did I waste an afternoon checking in on that anyway?  What was I thinking?
  3. Considering this “spring’s” weather, I wonder where those little robins hopping about our yard go when it snows.  Do you suppose they think, “That’ll teach us to listen to a stupid groundhog!”?
  4. Is there anything better in the world than listening to a kid giggle?  I mean really giggle because they are delighted at something simple.
  5. Why do cats follow me around?  I’ve mentioned that I’m not a cat lover right?  You’d think they’d follow around someone who doesn’t tell them to go away.
  6. Where in the parenting manual does it say that every teenage girl will decide you have no brain cells what so ever?  You’d think they could warn us.  Okay – I’m on teenage daughter number 2…you’d think I’d have seen this one coming.
  7. Am I the only one who wonders if the people driving on the interstate in the morning are that crabby to their co-workers too?  It’s amazing they still have jobs.  Calm down people…and leave earlier.
  8. On what planet was it decided that girls’ dresses should resemble what used to be a shirt?  I went to our youngest daughter’s concert the other night and had to resist the temptation to cover our youngest son’s eyes.  WOW!  Really – no one needs to see all that.
  9. Am I the only one who feels guilty when someone does something nice for me? Seriously. It isn’t like I never do nice things for people.   Once in a while anyway.
  10. Who decided that it was a good idea for Louie Anderson to be on a show about diving?  There are some things that just don’t go together but I am thankful they didn’t put him in a speedo.  While I’m thinking about it…who decided a show about celebrities diving was a good idea?  “Plunge off a really high platform and throw in a flip even though you have never done this before.” Brilliant! And so safe!

Happy Mid-Week Everyone!!



Wednesday Wonderings – I’m Baaaack!



Well…I’m almost back.  I’m blogging to you live today from our new landlord/neighbor…okay my parents’ home.  We have yet to get back “online” at our new location. It’s a long story involving cut phone lines and routers and metal studs but I won’t bore you with that.  I’ll just steal bandwidth from my ever-loving, ever-forgiving parents for now.  It’s been a busy two weeks. Enough to make a girl wonder.

  1. Why is it that no matter how well you think you’ve planned nothing ever goes as you thought it would?  That isn’t always bad, of course, but it sure makes me wonder why I wasted the time planning.  Of course if I hadn’t…
  2. Who hired the rodent to predict when spring was going to arrive?  He lies.  Eight inches of snow the day after we moved in…more predicted this weekend.  Last year at this time the magnolia tree in our yard…well our old yard…was starting to bloom.  Early spring? I don’t think so!
  3. Does anyone find it strangely amusing that your kids don’t appreciate you until you aren’t around any longer?  Our oldest daughter called last night and informed me how much she appreciates that I did her laundry all the time.  She just figured that out?
  4. Why do I own so many pitchers?  No one is that thirsty.
  5. Why is it so easy to fall out of a routine and so hard to get back into one.  Seriously: two weeks off the treadmill and this week you’d think I was going to die.  So much for thinking I’m in pretty good shape.  (Well…round is a shape.)
  6. Have you ever noticed that the stuff that drove you crazy as a kid you now enjoy?  I’m kind of liking the quiet and distance of being in the country right now.
  7. Why is it than when you are working you wish you could say home but when you are home you wish you had a job?  I’ve figured out I am no longer wired to be a stay at home mom.  Might have something to do with the fact that my kids are gone all day….
  8. Are anybody else’s parents like a thousand percent funnier now that they are older?  I swear…these are not the people who raised me.  Well they are but a kid playing a recorder for them seems to annoy them less these days.
  9. Who knew that the heat from a wood burning stove was so much warmer?  Okay a lot of people probably knew that but I just figured it out.
  10. Does anyone else achingly miss the internet when they don’t have access? If I had a dime for every time I’ve said, “well just look it up…oh…wait….” recently I’d be able to start my own internet provider company.

I’m also wondering how I made it this long without checking in on everyone.  Forgive me. It isn’t that I haven’t thought about it – or all of you! Happy mid-week all!


Uphill….Both Ways…..

My father walked to school 4 o’clock every morning with no shoes on, uphill, both ways, in 5 feet of snow and he was thankful.  ~Bill Cosby

Driving home yesterday afternoon the radio DJ mentioned that his co-worker was sad because she had taken her family to the airport that morning.  About two minutes later he aired a phone call. “You should tell her to be thankful she doesn’t work in retail today because that is worse than saying goodbye to family.” the caller said.  I glanced at my radio.  Really?  What does one thing have to the other?  And when is it that people have decided that everything is a contest to see whose life sucks the most?  I understand encouraging people to keep things in perspective but, come on:  This is turning into a national sport.  We’ll call it “Hard Time One-Upping”. (HTOU for short)

I suppose I’ve always known people who have had it tougher, longer and handled it better than I have and aren’t shy about sharing their feelings.  I know more people who lived on less money and raised their children better and have survived more hard times than I ever could.  Just ask them.  Wait. You don’t have to ask them because they are happy to tell you their stories anytime you mention that something is frustrating you.  Or that you are having a hard time.  Or a bad day.  “A bad day??” They will scoff. “Well one time when I was your age I woke to discover that not only had the zombies taken over the planet they had stolen our car but I was THANKFUL that I had my family with me.  That was all I needed. We worked together to overthrow those zombies and the world is a better place because of it.  You over sleeping, having a flat tire and being late to work is nothing compared to that day. I survived the zombie apocalypse.”     Yeah. “Those” people.  Know any? Many of their sentences start with, “Well let me tell you about the time I……”

Probably the worst of the HTOU-ers I know are women.  Have you ever been around a bunch of older women who are talking with a lady who is pregnant for the first time?  Holy moly!  I never knew that giving birth could be that difficult and I’ve done it four times myself.  It’s like a bunch of chickens trying to out-cluck each other.  Don’t get me wrong. Labor and delivery is no fun but for pity sake!  I often want to look at some of these women and ask, “So….you had more children after that because….???”  I’ve also often wondered why in the world are we trying to scare the bejeebers out of this poor woman who is now pregnant and is going to go into labor one of these days?  Do they bring old veterans to military boot camp and have them expound on how scary it is to be shot at during a war?  Just shut up ladies.  She’ll find out.  HTOU women also have the worst husbands.  The most demanding kids.  The hardest house to clean.  The most pain.  They are sick more often than you. Their lives just stink and if you ever doubt it they’ll be happy to corner you for hours and let you know about it.  Something in their lives is worse than yours.  I will never forget when a few months after I had a miscarriage, a friend of mine also had one.  I called her one day to see how she was doing. She was very guarded at the beginning of the conversation.  After I talked to her for a while, without mentioning my own recent miscarriage, she said to me, “Thank you.  I was afraid you were calling to tell me how you got through it just fine.  I don’t understand why people do that. No offense but someone telling me that their grandmother died too doesn’t take away the pain of losing my own grandmother.”  She was right and her words have stuck with me for years.

I imagine the introduction on social media has not helped the HTOU situation at all.  I find myself sitting on my hands some days so that I will not comment on someone’s whiny post about having to get out of bed when they didn’t feel like it.  There are a few people I just want to slap upside the head most of the time.  Their lives are so difficult.  Well it would seem to be according to what they are posting.   To me it seems like they need to suck it up and grow up but to mention that in a comment would make me a HTOU – wouldn’t it??  I try really not to do that.  I remember my mother telling me one time, “What is a mountain to someone else may not even be a foothill to you but that doesn’t make it less of a mountain to that person.” She’s right.  Who am I to judge someone else’s mountain. Who am I to tell them my mountain has been bigger?  There’s a balance in there somewhere. The delicate balance between encouraging someone that they will make it through a hard time and throwing our own experience in their face.  We can help people keep things in perspective without skewing it with our own can’t we?  Somehow the scale has gotten tilted too far to one side.  Otherwise no one would feel the need to call a radio station to compare her irritation at working the day after Christmas to someone else’s sadness at saying goodbye to her family that day.  The two have nothing to do with each other.  We should probably learn to leave it that way.



We Cannot Let It Win

sandy-hook-elementaryYou may have noticed that I have ‘t posted a blog since last Friday.  Haven’t had the desire.  There seemed to be no words to say that were appropriate and it seemed disrespectful to go about blogging in my usual twisted and usually silly mode. I wasn’t feeling very silly.  I was feeling, like most people I know, shocked and saddened. Brokenhearted. Heavy.  Defeated.  In fact I contemplated removing my post from Friday.  Although I posted it before the shooting rampage began Friday morning I still felt like perhaps it was inappropriate to have it posted when such a horrific event was unfolding.  I decided to leave it alone. It reminded me that there is no way anyone can know something like that is about to happen.  No way to foresee it or prepare for it.  Life is fleeting.  We only have the moment we are in right now for certain.  Things can change in an instant.

I’ve spent the last few days struggling to wrap my brain around what happened.  I’ve decided that there is no way to wrap your brain around it.  There is no answer to the “why” questions.  There is no making sense out of a senseless act.  There is no way to figure out something that is as purely evil as someone walking into an elementary school, or any other place for that matter, and opening fire on innocent people.  I can’t comprehend that kind of evil. I hope I never do.  I have concluded only one thing: I’m not going to let the evil win.

Over the weekend though I couldn’t stand to watch too much coverage I did watch several posts and debates unfold on Facebook.  Religious debates.  Gun control debates. Mental health debates.  None of the questions are bad to ask.  There is nothing wrong with seeking some answers. What disturbed me was the vitriol that each side of each issue, clearly believing they were correct, was throwing at each other.  The anger at each other instead of the anger at the act.  The hatred shown to anyone who disagreed with the posters opinion.  I am all for debate and questions until they turn to anger and hatred.  While I’m angry at the evil that occurred on Friday morning – the evil – the act – I am unwilling to let it make me angry and hateful to others simply because they don’t agree with me.  While becoming angry that something occurred is normal letting it take root in my life and spewing it out upon others is not. If I let that happen then the evil is winning isn’t it?

Yesterday as I drove our youngest son to his elementary school I was hit with a kind of surreal feeling.  I noticed other kids walking down the sidewalk to the school and thought about the children who innocently walked into Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday morning.  Some dragging. Some skipping.  All counting days until the upcoming holiday break. As I hugged my son a little longer than usual and kissed him goodbye, twice, while telling him how much I love him, twice, I felt something close to panic.  If something like that could happen in a nice community in Connecticut it can surely happen in a nice community in Nebraska.  In that instant I realized that I was letting fear take over.  While I am a true believer in being diligent to do the things I know to do to protect them I cannot smother my children because I am afraid of what “could” happen.  If  I begin to live in worry, panic and fear over the safety of my children then evil has won.

School resumed in all of the other schools in Newton today.  Many families felt that it was time to get things as back to “normal” as they can.  To begin taking steps toward the future.  To begin to start healing.   So while today my heart is still broken for the community,  specifically the families of the victims and all the people who survived Friday’s attack, I am determined to shake off the heavy feeling that I’ve had for several days.  While I grieve with and pray for those dealing with the shock and aftermath of this tragedy I must not let it take away my hope for the future.  To let the weight of the evil bog me down. To let it make me jaded and  unable to trust people. If it does then the evil has won.  And though it may sometimes feel like evil is winning the battle,  I have enough faith to know:

Evil will not win the war.


If you, like I, feel like there should be something you should do to express your support and thoughts to the people of Newton,  the Newton Post Office has set up a special  box to receive condolences.  Click here for the details.


Happy As I Choose To Be


As I woke up this morning I could sense that I had the potential of a real funk coming on.  I truly believe that Mondays after a four-day holiday weekend should be outlawed. They just have no redeeming quality really and no one looks forward to them.  Well….no one I know. Actually maybe we should outlaw four-day holiday weekends.  If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t spend all of Sunday night saying, “Wow that really went fast.” or “I really don’t want to go back to work tomorrow.” Wait.  That’s every weekend.  Never mind.   I’m going to stick with Mondays following long weekend being cruel and unusual punishment.  Or at least what feels like cruel and unusual punishment when the alarm goes off.  In fact alarms on any Monday are cruel and unusual.  Necessary I realize but cruel none the less.  Judging from the number of times I had to call up the stairs this morning to get our youngest son moving for school I’m guessing he would agree. He wasn’t too impressed with his “human” alarm this morning either.  (Thankfully he knows better than to hit me on the head or throw me across the room.)  In fact I’m pretty sure none of my kids were impressed with the whole thing this morning.  Not a lot of happy faces headed off to school this morning.  Not grumpy really, just not happy.  It was kind of like Monday morning blues on steroids.  That’s what long weekends do.

After dropping off my less than excited youngest at school and heading to work in the lightly falling snow I found myself slipping deeper into “grumpy land.”  I live in Nebraska.  You would think people would remember how to drive in snow. They never do however.  The first snow of the year always brings out the worst driver in half the population around here. It wasn’t even a heavy snow I might add.  Just a light little snow that was sticking but wasn’t doing too much to the road conditions.  It doesn’t matter.  The mere presence of white stuff in the air causes some people’s gray matter in the head to go into a snow coma.  They do things like stop in the middle of the street to let people walk across.  Now I know it’s chilly out but I really do think that it isn’t too much to ask for someone to walk the extra 1/3 block to the corner to walk across in the cross walk.  That was I see them and don’t almost hit a pedestrian.  Just pointing it out.

By the time I arrived at work I was in less than the best of moods and actually working up to a true pity party.  My husband left for his four-day stretch of work this morning. My oldest child left to go back to college this morning.  My other kids were grumpy and I didn’t want to be at work.  Yup.  I was on my way to a great big funk of a pity party.  Then I remembered that I can’t stand pity parties when other people throw them.  Why today had I decided that it was okay for me to throw my own?  I am not a fan of hypocrites. When did I become one?  At about that time the Abraham Lincoln quote from above popped into my head.  I realized I had a choice to make.   We all do.  Every morning.  And afternoon.  And evening.

Sometimes it’s just good to be reminded of that.




Thanksgiving Potluck and What Ifs

Yesterday we attended what will be our final Thanksgiving potluck at the church where we’ve attended and  I’ve worked for the past 12 years.  I have to admit that we’ve skipped many of those meals over the years.  First of all I’m not a huge potluck fan.  I’ve seen some of these people’s homes and eating food that has come from those homes makes me nervous.  Does that make me a snot?  Perhaps, but I’m just being honest.   I realize that there are lots of restaurants that are probably worse but at least I haven’t seen their kitchens.  Besides they at least get inspected from time to time by the health department.  I finally remedied this by becoming a “pan reader” .  Yes – I read the labels on the pan to see who brought it. If it isn’t labeled or I didn’t see who brought it in I don’t eat it.  (Welcome to my retentive world.)  I also have the propensity to skip fellowship events because I am the church secretary.  Every time I walk through the door whether I’m “on the clock” or not. I can count on at least 3 people asking me about something that has to do with my job while trying to eat during a fellowship dinner.  And then they get annoyed if I don’t jump to solve the issue right then or remember what they told me the next day.  Combine those two main ingredients and I’m more of a “potluck skipper.” Yesterday, however, we decided to stay since this will be one of our last opportunities to attend such a function.

I was reminded how much I love these people as I walked by one table where one of our “seasoned saints” was busily stuffing food into her take home Tupperware container after she finished eating.  A few years ago that would have annoyed me and I would have been appalled that anyone would be that tacky.  Yesterday, however, it made me laugh, almost out loud.  This sweet lady is one of the funniest old women I know.  I hope I’m that funny when I get to that age so that I can get away with stuff.  She is the church “picture taker” – always there to capture the moment.  With some of the worst pictures I’ve ever seen.  Then she gets doubles printed so you can have a copy of what you look like from a toddler’s vantage point. (did I mention she is short?) I have some really great shots of the inside of my husband’s nose because of this sweet lady.  She’s also a notorious driver.  I used to think they called her “flash” because of the picture think.  Nope.  She drives fast. Always.  While trying to do something else like touch up the frosting on a cake she’s decorating. (Yes – I’m serious.)  How she still has insurance is beyond me.   She also deeply cares about everyone’s lives (almost to the point of being intrusive) and does stuff for people that no one else would ever do.  I love this woman and I’m going to miss her.  I realized that as I watched her fill up her lunch dish for the next day.  She is one of a kind and I’ll never meet another lady like her.  Though she’s caused me a few headaches at my job over the years I am so thankful to have had the chance to cross her path (though not with my car – whew!) for these years.

Chuckling I walked toward the table where my family was located when I stopped to talk to friend.  She noted that she was surprised to see me there because she knows my feelings about potluck food and being “on duty” at church things.  I smiled and told her that we figured that since it was the last Thanksgiving we’d be here I figured we ought to come.  Besides I’m am getting pretty good at reading pans.  We had a laugh and I went on, but her words stuck with me the rest of the afternoon.  I kind of felt bad that people would be surprised to see me.  We’ve attended this church for a long time and have attended lots of things over the years but once I got to thinking about it I realized that it has been less and less over the past few years.  Part of it I suppose is feeling tired and burnt out.  Part of it is feeling that you are about to move on and being anxious to get there.  Part of it, however, is plain flat being complacent. Things are always going to be the same, right?  Somehow knowing that we are leaving has snapped me out of some of that.  We are trying to enjoy these last months here in the place that has been home for so long.  We are trying to leave nothing unsaid or undone.  It makes me stop and wonder, though: what if we lived like we were moving all the time?

What if we’d take every opportunity we could to enjoy what is going on like it’s the last time it could happen.  I know that a person cannot possibly participate in every activity and I would never suggest that anyone should try but what if we’d make sure to be there more than not being there?  Since we found out about our upcoming move we have purposed to do just that.  Participate in things one last time and enjoy them to their fullest.  As long and drawn out as this move has seemed to be I will forever be grateful that I’ve had time to say goodbye to some things.  To let them go on a high note and with good memories.  We don’t always have that chance in life.

What if we’d purge the stuff that isn’t important.  I have been in all out downsize mode lately.  If we haven’t used it in a while or no longer need it it is going out the door.  What if we lived that way?  Getting rid of junk that is just taking up space. I’m talking both physically and metaphorically here of course.  I’ve had no greater joy lately than giving stuff away to people who I know will use it an enjoy it.  Life is meant to be shared not hoarded.  Junk just gets in your way eventually.

What if we’d live like we knew that we wouldn’t be around much longer?  Would the little things, like my sweet friend and her Tupperware, annoy us as much any longer?  I can tell you in my life: no.  Instead I see the sweet things in people,  The things about them that I’m going to miss.  I think about all the things that so many people have done for and with us over the years and the silly stuff just doesn’t seem to matter.   What  if I took the time to do that more often instead of just when I’m getting ready to move?  I’m sure I’d probably be a sweeter person.

What if we’d purpose to have more fun and enjoy things more because we knew we wouldn’t get the chance again? Would are days be fuller and our hearts more content?

I’ll be forever grateful to my friend for making that statement.  She has no idea that it had that big of an impact on me. She was mostly trying to be funny in her blunt honest way.  What if we all were honest with each other more often?  I wonder if we’d all get to thinking about the little things a little more.


A True Leader

The all out buzz in my great state the past 24 hours centers around the retirement announcement of Tom Osborne, current athletic director at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  This isn’t the first time Dr. Tom has retired.  I remember watching a similar press conference in 1997 when he retired as the head football coach of UNL. That retirement caused an even bigger buzz and quite a few tears if I remember correctly. Today as I look through articles and comments either condemning or praising him I have to ask myself, “What is it about this man that makes a whole state stop and pay attention to what he is doing?”  Is it just because he won a lot of football games?  That helped of course but I don’t think that is the whole of it.  It has more to do simply with who the man is: A true leader.  

I have watched Tom Osborne my entire life.  He’s part of my state’s history. A  great part of it.  I simply don’t remember anything that happened before Tom was at the helm of the Husker football.  (That might have something to do with the fact that I was three the year he took over for his predecessor.)  In those years  I watched him win big and lose close.  I’ve watched him make tough decisions and live with the consequences.  I watched him in victory and in defeat.  The man’s character never changed.  Honest.  Upright. Quiet. A man of integrity. A man who stood by his decisions. A man who spent little time defending himself.   A man of little words.  He let his actions speak for him.  He spent little time worrying about his “legend” and more time serving the people who surrounded him.  He gave his job all that he had.  He not only coached young men in football but he coached them in life.  If you talk to most of his former players today they will tell you that he affected them on a much bigger level than becoming football players.  He helped make them the men they are today. I admire him not because of his football success but because of the example he has continually set for a couple of generations in this state.

He still has his detractors.

 I remember 1983 when all anyone could ask was why he didn’t just go for the tie in the Orange bowl.  Under the old system we were assured a national championship if we’d have tied that game. Tom went for two.  Why?  Because that’s who he is.  He’d rather win or lose outright than get in by technicality.  He is a man of integrity but his decision still drove most of the state nuts.  I remember the bowl years that followed when Nebraska just couldn’t seem to win.  Tom was decried for his old fashioned play. It was declared that, though a good coach, “Tom just can’t win the big one.”  What people didn’t know was that Tom was studying and making changes.  Gradual changes that eventually lead in one of the greatest runs I’ve ever seen: convincing National Championships in 1994, 1995 and 1997.  Then he retired while still on top of his job. He didn’t want to stay longer than he should.  He wanted to get out of the way for the future of the program.  He built it and then he trusted those he’d trainined to continue it in the direction it needed to go. That’s a true leader.

Even his long sought and much deserved championships weren’t without controversy. One of the things you will still hear from his critics is his handling of some of his football players during the 94/95 season.  Suddenly the mild mannered,  quiet coach from Nebraska was labeled a “win at all costs” kind of guy.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.  He was a “help football players become good men” kind of guy.    He made decisions that he believed at the time were in the best interests of everyone involved. He wasn’t protecting his players or his program as much as he was trying to make a difference in the lives of the young men on his team.  Young human men who sometimes do really stupid things just like most other young human men. The difference is that these young men did them under a national spotlight.  The truth is the program didn’t need these boys to win.  These boys, he felt, needed the stability of the program. Looking back now Tom has said that perhaps he should have taken a different course of action but at the time he thought he was doing the right thing.  That’s who he is.  Still owing his actions but admitting that it may have been better had he done something else.  That’s a true leader.

After serving in the House of Representatives for six years our beloved Dr. Tom was teaching a few classes at UNL when the entire athletic program fell into disarray.  He was asked to step in as athletic director to help right the ship that was quickly sinking.  He was perhaps the only man in the world who could have done it because of his reputation, history and status in our state. We love Dr. Tom.  So at the age of 70 he stepped in to help.  Because he he was aked, he took on an astronomical job at an age when most men are catching up on their fishing time.  He’s reason? In his own words: “I thought if I could help  that I should.”  He’s “helped..” He’s given that job his very best for the past five years.  He’s turned it around and gotten things back on course.  He’s recreated an atmosphere of trust and work ethic.  He’s combined history with vision for the future.  That’s a true leader.

So many lessons can be learned from this one man’s life.  He’s touched and taught so many people just because of the character of who he is.  As he retires for the second time one can’t help but to stop and think of those things.  One can’t help but wish him the best: lots of time with his family and maybe a little time fishing.  I have a feeling,though, that  he’ll spend a large amount of time working at the statewide teen mentoring program he and his wife started years ago.  That’s who he is.  A man who cares more about touching the lives of those who need help than he does about what would be pleasant or easier for him.  A man who gives more than he takes. He’s a true leader.  I can learn a lot from his example.   


Thanks Dr. Tom!!


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A Little Understanding For The Folks Behind The Counters

I had to go to the post office today over my lunch break.  When I arrived there was only one person ahead of me – SCORE!  I was excited that I’d caught a day without a line and took my place behind the blue line to wait for my turn. The older gentleman already at the counter in front of me was mailing several packages.  He was demanding, loudly, that the poor frazzled clerk check every rate to ensure that he was getting the cheapest postage possible and scolding her for the fact that it costs so much to mail anything now a days. “I can remember when it only cost 2 cents to mail something….” “The service isn’t any better now than it was in 1952….”  Really sweet little fella.  My heart went out to the poor clerk who was trying to as polite as possible while still being efficient. She was the only one working the counter at the time.  I’m pretty sure she was wishing she’d traded lunch breaks with someone else and missed Mr. Happy all together.  I have to hand it to her that she handled it well. I’d have choked the guy. Clerk: Is there anything flammable or fragile in this package.” Mr. H: “Well I don’t want it broken if that’s what you are asking!” Clerk: “No sir. We wouldn’t break anything on purpose.  I just need to know if it needs to be marked fragile.” Mr. H: “Does that cost more?  It shouldn’t cost more. You should be careful with everything.”  Yeah.  I don’t think today would be a good day to ask her if she loved her job. I was ready to kill him and I wasn’t even dealing with him.   As I stood there in disbelief I was reminded of an incident I witnessed earlier this summer.

A few months ago I had to take a trip to our county courthouse to re-license one of our vehicles. I put this chore somewhere after get a root canal and before severing a limb on my “fun things to do” list but it has to be done.  I walked into the courthouse expecting the usual line but was pleasantly surprised that there were very few people there.  As I cheerfully walked over to the Treasurer’s office window I heard a gentleman across the way at the County Clerk’s counter.  I’m pretty sure everyone in town heard the gentleman standing at the Clerk’s counter because he wasn’t using his quiet inside voice.  He was very loudly explaining to the poor woman behind the window that our county seems to have an inordinate number of incompetent judges and attorney and how the constitution allowed we the people to do something about that in November. I can only assume that his morning in civil court hadn’t ended in a way he had anticipated. The more he talked the louder he got and trust me he had a lot to say.  I looked over at the poor girl working behind the counter.  She kind of resembled a deer caught in headlights. Afraid to move and yet wanting to flee.  As I paid for our registration and license the lady waiting on me from the treasurer’s office muttered, “Boy I’m glad I don’t work over there today!”  I laughed and said, “No, but I suppose you get your share of chewing out .”  She smiled at me and said, “Why do you think we put in the bullet proof glass. It’s to protect the people on THAT side of the counter.”  I laughed and told her to have a good afternoon, my respect level rising for anyone who has to work behind a counter.

Our oldest daughter works at a grocery store in town.  Not long ago she came home and told us about her day at work. Apparently there are only certain types of beans that the W.I.C. program allows you to purchase with their checks.  The store’s computer is programmed to know what the limits are and what is available to purchase. The people checking you out don’t program the computer nor do they make the rules for the program.   That particular day the woman who was trying to purchase the incorrect type of beans with her W.I.C. check wasnt aware that the cute red-headed clerk wasn’t trying to be difficult. She can only do what her register will let her do. (By the way – NO – she isn’t too dumb to make change without her register’s help.  That’s such a pleasant stereotype.)  Many swear words and a manager’s assist later “Mrs. W.I.C.” departed after letting my daughter know exactly what she thought of her, the management and the store in general.  My chipper little daughter shrugged it off but I kind of felt sorry for her.  It isn’t any fun to be the target of frustrated people. That seems to happen a lot to people who work check-out.  It all makes me wonder how often I think a clerk is incompetent or slow and in reality they are just tired of dealing with grumpy people?  How often am I one of the grumpy people?

As I finally walked up to the post office counter today the clerk said to me, “I am SO sorry you had to wait so long!” (How often do you hear THAT at a post office??) I smiled at her and said, “It’s ok. It certainly wasn’t your fault.”  She stopped, cocked her head and looked at me. “You know,” she said, “you might just be the first person who has ever said that to me.” I smiled at her and said, “Well I’m glad someone said it to you .” took my stamps and wished her a better afternoon.  As I walked out I remembered again my new goal to be nice to people working behind counters.  You never know what they’ve dealt with before you got there.  You could just become the bright spot in their day. Or you could become the thing that ruins their day. The person the talk about when they come home from work.  The choice is yours.


Side Effects

I picked up my prescription refill the other day and found myself glancing over the list of possible side effects listed on the information sheet from my pharmacy. I have been taking this particular prescription, or a close derivative of it, for twenty years and have never had a problem so I’m not exactly sure why I thought I needed to review the possible side effects now. Well you never know. I could have been having a side effect all these years and didn’t know it.  Since “warped personality” wasn’t listed I guess I’m safe. I do wonder though if my tiredness has something to do with my prescription. It couldn’t have anything to do with three kids and a job and well, you know, a life, could it? As I was mentally checking off the possible side effects it occurred to me that perhaps it isn’t always good to see a list. Sometimes what you don’t know is a good thing.

I travel back  a few years when one of the seasoned saints in our church who is a bit of a hypochondriac (ok – she’s a lot of a hypochondriac) was telling me all about her concern over a new prescription the doctor gave her husband.  The conversation went a little like this: “Can you be praying for (husband’s name)? The doctor gave him new medication and it says it can cause a stroke.” Me (trying to not grow weary) “What did they give him?”  Her: “This stuff called ibuprofen.” At this juncture I am fairly certain that my eyes bulged from their sockets.  I really couldn’t help the next thing that came out of my mouth: “You mean ADVIL?!” Her: “No. Ibuprofen.” Me: “Yeah. That’s what Advil is.  They sell it over the counter.” Her: “Well this is a really high dose. 800 mg.” Me (again snickering): “Yeah. My husband takes that many for a headache. I think (husband’s name) will probably be just fine.”   This is just one of many similar conversations I have had with this dear lady over the years.  I really want to call her pharmacy and ask them to quit printing out the side effect sheets for her prescriptions.  She reads them and worries about them. It makes ME need to take ibuprofen and heaven knows I don’t need to risk a stroke.

I totally understand why drug manufacturers have to list all the possible side effects on everything they produce. We live in a sue-happy society.  Has anyone not heard the commercials that start “If you or a loved one have taken the prescription drug (fill in the blank)…. ”  Actually I heard a new one the other day that was fairly interesting.  It started like this: “If you or a male family member were on the antipsychotic drug (please don’t expect me to remember the name. Or be able to spell it for that matter.) and have developed breasts you may be entitled to compensation.”  What??  While I understand that this would be disconcerting, let’s put this in perspective: develop breasts or become a serial killer.  Tough choice.  

I’m thinking perhaps we need to start listing possible side effects for everything  just so people will know what could happen. 

  • On candy bars: Side effects could include expansion of the waistline resulting in the need for new clothes.  Discontinue use at first sign of clothes tightening and consult the fresh fruit aisle.
  • On soda: Side effects could include hyper-activity and sleeplessness especially in younger people.  Discontinue use at the first sign of caffeine induced hysteria and drink some water for heaven sake.
  • On the car: Side effects could include poor driving which can result in a fiery crash.  If you have a history of poor driving please consult the driver’s manual before putting other lives at risk.
  • On Alarm Clocks: Side effects of waking up could include wanting to hurt those around you and expose you to a bad day.  Do not get out of bed if you are prone to grumpiness.  Consult your physician should symptoms persist.  He has drugs for that.

Ok. Perhaps that isn’t such a great idea.  Perhaps bliss IS a side effect of ignorance.

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